Exec promoted to chief operating officer

Lionsgate prexy Steve Beeks has been upped to chief operating officer and will keep the prexy title, the company announced Tuesday,.

Co-chairman and CEO Jon Feltheimer, vice chairman Michael Burns and Beeks all have inked contracts through 2010 and 2011. Company said the moves highlight a recent period of stability and steady growth.

Since acquiring Artisan in December 2003, the 21-year-old company has launched successful franchises such as “Saw,” won a best picture Oscar for “Crash” and helped distribute “Fahrenheit 911.”

Its share price has more than doubled in that span, pushing its market cap well past $1 billion. Lately, it has traded in a fairly tight range between $11 and $12 a share. The stock shed about 2.5% Tuesday to close at $11.

Beeks’ additional title and promotion “reflect the role he is already playing in helping me manage Lionsgate’s day-to-day operations as well as leading our home entertainment, library and digital initiatives,” Feltheimer said.

In addition to overseeing corporate operations, Beeks guides strategy for international expansion as well as identifying corporate acquisitions and other strategic ventures. Since he joined the company around the time of the Artisan deal in 2003, Lionsgate’s homevid unit has hit a high of nearly $530 million in annual revenues, with a market share of about 6%. Revenues from the company’s 11,000-title library hit a record $256 million for fiscal 2007.

Before Lionsgate, Beeks was homevid prexy at Artisan, which he joined in January 1998. After several years in business development, he ran homevid operations for Republic Pictures and Hallmark Home Entertainment.

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